Police probes blast that hurts Lebak mayor

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 May) — Police authorities in Sultan Kudarat province have widened their investigation into the bomb explosion beside the municipal hall of Lebak town on Monday that seriously wounded its mayor and his security escort.

Senior Supt. Rex dela Rosa, Sultan Kudarat police director, said Tuesday he has assigned a team of investigators to look deeper into the incident and determine its possible motive as well as the identity of the suspects.

He said they are currently investigating a number of angles, including local politics and terrorism, as possibly behind the attack that appeared to have targeted Lebak Mayor Dionisio Besana.

“We’re focused right now on the possible threats on the mayor’s life,” the official said in a radio interview.

Besana was about to leave the municipal hall of Lebak at around 11:05 a.m. on Monday when an improvised bomb exploded at a nearby parking area.

Police said the cellphone-triggered explosive was planted underneath a motorcycle that was parked beside the mayor’s pickup service vehicle.

Investigators said employees of the Lebak municipal government unit saw a man wearing black trousers and a dark colored shirt drove the bomb-laden motorcycle to the area prior to the explosion.

Mayor Besana and his security detail identified as Police Officer 2 Van Anthony Vecilles sustained various shrapnel wounds and were immediately rushed to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City for treatment.

As of Tuesday morning, dela Rosa said the mayor, who underwent an operation on Monday night, is already in stable condition but remained at the intensive care unit of the CRMC.

He said Vecilles, who only sustained minor injuries, is also confined at the same hospital.

Dela Rosa said they are still determining whether the mayor had received threats on his life prior to the attack on Monday.

He said the Lebak municipal police station had not received any previous report from Besana’s camp related to the matter.

As to the terrorism angle, the police official said they could not discount such possibility but noted that it has to be substantiated first by statements from witnesses and proper evidences.

Dela Rosa added that their office and other local law enforcement agencies had not monitored any credible threat from terror groups in the past months that specifically targeted the municipality of Lebak. (MindaNews)